A $14 fixture looks like a $3,000 toilet

Updated kitchens and bathrooms can mean money. But the right upgrades can mean savings.

Updated kitchens and bathrooms can mean money. But the right upgrades can mean savings.

“Product ideas and approaches to decorating are the two big tickets to saving money,” says Kristan Cunningham, former host of HGTV’s Design on a Dime.

Since appliances are “where you’ll put down the biggest chunk of change when you take on a kitchen or bathroom remodel,” according to Cunningham, start at the source. “Most appliance stores have a scratch and dent section. Once something has been used as a floor model or has been unpackaged, they have to discount it because technically it’s not brand new merchandise. Maybe when they took it out of the packaging it got a scratch. Because of that you may get 25 -30 per cent taken off. So there can be huge savings.”

From there Cunningham recommends her “fabulous in the front, budget in the back” technique. She suggests using Ikea kitchen cabinet boxes but investing in a custom kitchen cabinet doors. Or use a box door cabinet line from Ikea and dress it up with more expensive hardware from Restoration Hardware. “At the end of the day, the details are what makes an entire space feel high end.”

The same is true in bathrooms. Instead of replacing the entire sink or toilet look at improving the fixtures.

“Most people don’t know this but places like Lowe’s or Home Depot have a section in the plumbing department that sells replacement fixtures. For instance just the bathtub valve or toilet flushers — mine was oil rubbed bronze. I think I spent $14 on it and everyone thinks it’s a $3,000 toilet, it looks so high-end.”

Aside from the details, materials are a great way to upgrade a look and save on cost. “My favourite buy right now is the butcher block at Ikea. There’s nothing cheaper that you can put in your house that looks as high-end. If you’re going to put in a laminate or can’t afford granite or stone, butcher block gives you a timeless completely high-end look at a fraction of the cost.”

Faucet frenzy
• HGTV’s Kristan Cunningham recommends checking out Ikea’s new line of faucets. “They have no markings and are very industrial looking.”

 
 
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